Post Oak Triple 2019 Race Report

This last weekend I did the Post Oak Triple Challenge. This is a Friday, Saturday, Sunday set of three races where you get to pick your distance for each race. The options are 10K, Quarter, Half, 25K, Full, 50K with Friday and Sunday being the ‘mile’ distances and Saturday being the ‘metric’ options.

I’d signed up for this last March to take advantage of the price discounts and had chosen the Half, 25K, Half as my triple option. Frankly I didn’t know where I’d be in my ability to run long and at the time 42 miles in one weekend seemed like a decent challenge.

Because the races are ‘heavy’, i.e. they’re all longer than the standard distance it was actually closer to 44 miles for me.

Bunny because she doesn’t sign up early for races because Life gets in the way too often for her ended up last minute only doing the Full on Sunday.

I’d of loved to have done it with her but by Sunday morning I made the decision it was too much as there is a 24 Hour run coming up in 3 weeks that I wanted to be in decent shape for. As a result she now has a trail marathon up on me.

The course is a roller coaster type course with at least for my courses about 1500′ of gain over the half distances and 2000′ of gain over the 25K. The vertical wasn’t enough to be super significant under normal racing conditions but as with last year as I understand it, the course was about 75% inches deep mud. This made for very unstable footing for me and forced me to slow down to an almost crawl at times. Buried in the mud were also just enough rocks to make thoughts of tripping and smashing ones face in a thing.

The race was very well done especially given the circumstances of having so many different races and distances all occurring at the same time over the same base set of trails. The aid stations were well staffed with friendly people with what I’d call an okay selection of offerings. But you have to remember the longest race was a 50k so having a full buffet at every AS was simply not necessary.

The mud was fun…. the first 20 miles.

On Friday I maintained not a bad pace for me, especially under the circumstances of the mud but something odd around mile eight happened and it felt like my left calf had torn with some level 7 or 8 pain punching in with each step, especially the climbs. I hauled out my Paria poles and used those to help take some of the pressure off with each step. It was bad enough that I really questioned if I was going to be a DNS for the next day or at least if it would be the ‘smart’ thing to do. But while I’m pretty smart, I’m not always wise.

Friday’s ending was the oddest ending I’ve had in a race so far. We get to the finish line, technically about 100 yards away and we’re stopped and asked what distance we have. I had been wondering as I had 12.4 miles at this point and the race was billed as a 13.7 heavy half. We’re directed to basically ‘head out that way and do some laps until you get the distance’.

All righty then. I ended up doing 14 miles because I didn’t want to get back and get sent out again for being short. 🙂

Saturday with little sleep had me at the start line for the 25K. The route that had been fun the day before was just now a comedy of entertaining slips and slides with 2 falls, one of them left feeling like I was a hair away from popping my arm out of its socket due to the way I landed trying to catch myself. This pace took a big nose dive. The trail was just torn up from the day before with even the good parts now slippy and slidey.

Running on a slippery surface works all the muscles in your legs, your arms and shoulders tense up as you use them to balance yourself and it’s mentally fatiguing. I.E. it’s a really good workout / training and if it doesn’t’ kill you it makes you stronger.

There was no funny business with the end of this race, nor Sunday’s. There was the ‘Hill from Hell’ but honestly it’s a lot scarier sounding than reality is. I was expecting some 2000′ 60 degree slope or something but while it does have some slope to it it’s just not that long or that high.

On Sunday we basically did a kind of combination of the Friday and Saturday routes except part of it was backwards so no surprises. And thanks to there having been no rain for the last 24 hours the track wasn’t worse than it had been the day before for the most part. First couple of miles the mud was still half frozen from the sub freezing temps overnight but the sun came out and fixed that, turning it all back into mush again.

I was feeling the exertion by this time, the mud, the balancing act going up and down slippery slopes and general lack of sleep, not unusual for me but it certainly doesn’t help and while the pace was a little better than Saturday it wasn’t much better. And by this time I was tired of mud running after almost 30 miles of it going into Sunday.

So I was pretty happy to finally come around the ‘victory lap’ and cross over the finish line ending my Triple challenge.

We missed Bunny’s first lap finish by about 15 minutes, the full’s had a 30 minute head start on us so I went home, washed 20lbs of mud off my legs then went back out to wait on her to cross the finish line to put her medal around her neck.

Rocky Raccoon 50 2019 Race Report

It’s been a week since Bunny and I did the Rocky 50. We’re both feeling for the most part surprisingly well. After the race neither of us suffered the bone breaking muscle cramps, me in particular, after the Dead Horse 50 we did November 2018. My muscles, specifically my quads were pretty sore for a couple of days afterwards but by T/F they were good and today, S, they feel pretty normal.

Jazz hands!

For us this race started with a 8 hour road trip including stops for gas some breakfast. As is turning out to be the norm our rooms were not ready/available when we got there so we went and had lunch and did some shopping to kill the time.

After checking in we went to the main lodge at the park to do bag drop / packet pickup. The folks were really nice and encouraging when they heard this was our first 50 mile.

Back in our rooms it was time to sort out our gear for the umpteenth time and then some TV which reinforced once again why I cancelled cable tv years ago. I think I may have been asleep by 8:30 and for once pre-race slept surprisingly well.

There we are

To keep stress down my alarm went off at 3:30 and I went over my gear once again. By 4:30 I picked up Bunny and her gear and off we went to the Hunstville State Park where the race was held. Race start was at 6:00 a.m. and it started on time.

Off we went into the darkness at our normal post-start walk and then started our 1K run / .25k walk cycle. At each aid station we refilled a bottle, we both carried two full ones and one empty spare and snacked on whatever looked good. Our main nutrition was comprised of Spring Energy gels with some alternates like eGel by CrankSports, Skratch Labs bars, Justin’s Nut Butters, candied ginger.

Hydration was a mix of PediaLyte, ElectroRide by Spring Energy, eFuel by CrankSports, Skratch Labs drink mix.

Electrolytes were supplemented by Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. One of the critical things we wanted to make sure of was not getting low on electrolytes to avoid major cramping during and post race. And our plan seems to have worked fairly well. So we had electrolytes in our water and additional capsules.

More Jazz Hands!!

Overall I find I don’t care for the flavor long term of the ElectroRide. Bunny likes it but for me it becomes unappealing and I can’t afford to have my fluid less than appealing so I consume it at a sufficient rate.

Starting with Damnation aid station we started grabbing cups of Raman with broth although we had to consume it at the aid station because we weren’t allowed to leave with the cups.

For future use to avoid that time sink I’ve picked up a couple of Sea To Summit collapsible mugs so we can fill and go for these kinds of foods.

We held our schedule like clockwork for the first 25 miles getting back to the S/F in 5 hours 50 minutes. A little slow for us but we did have another 25 miles to go.

I will say the course was mostly okay running wise but there were a number of pretty large mud sinks on the trails that just kept getting wider over time as runners kept going further and further out to get around them.

In general if you were careful you could though get through the course without getting your feet soaked.

The scenery was, no offense Texas and I’m a born Texan, but it was boring. Your basic Texas scrub land with some tall pines scattered here and there. After the first mile you’ve seen all the variety the course has to offer. It was no Moab desert for views.

Like everyone pretty much says, the long out and back to Farside from Damnation seems like it takes forever and when you get there there’s just fluids and some friendly people to cheer you back out.

The aid stations were well stocked with the usual things including hot foods at most.

I was starting to get worried about lack of urination by the end of lap 1 so I wasted some time trying to pee during the layover between lap 1 and 2 and we also got our trekking poles and changed shoes.

Overall I cost us quite a lot of time with fruitless attempts at urination starting now and through the next couple of ASs that had bathrooms. But I’ve suffered Rhabdo before from runs so seeing the color of my urine can be critical for me as I don’t care to hit the emergency room with kidney failure.

Eventually I started drinking more and more water even though I wasn’t super thirsty, going through about 750ml (24oz) every hour and this did the trick.

During lap 2 we switched to walking the uphills mostly and running the downhills but because the whole course was up and down with very little flat this cost us time. Add in the pee checks, raman stops, gear malfunctions and the second lap took us 7 hours and change.

We ran into a couple of ladies, one a teacher and the other a sub on the second lap and ran with them for awhile, they were ironwomen but this was their first 50 mile and really first trail. They were quicker than us except on the more technical trail pieces but eventually left us behind overall.

I bring them up because we picked them up about 6K from the finish line again where they were trying to make their way back in the pitch black as they’d not brought any light options. We moseyed back to the finish line at a moderate walk with one detour because someone had removed the ‘do not go this way tape’ and the sign to turn off was facing away from us on the side of the trail so we missed it.

Eventually we figured it out and made it to the finish line in 13 hours and 25 minutes.

Take-aways –

We both ended up measuring about 3500-3600 feet of vertical gain over the 50 miles. Not a stupid amount but more than we were expecting for sure. It was also mostly a rollercoaster route.

It should be obvious but for a long race you have to bring lights, plural and spare batteries. I’ve owned and own lights of all kinds, mostly hard duty mil-spec types but a few running lights as well.

Of all the lights I’ve owned and used I highly recommend a ‘non-runner’ light, I heard comments “is a car coming up behind us” early in the morning, and that is this ZebraLight in the warm white ‘Floody’ version.

It lights up a huge area in front of you without any hot spots, just a solid hemisphere of light. The 18650 batteries on high-high lasts about 2 and a half hours and is beyond bright. The medium power will last you all night, 13 hours and is as bright enough to keep you moving. It can also be programmed with a second high power that can last up to 6 hours and puts out as much light as any good ‘runner’ light. It’s light weight, super durable and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Once you’ve seen it turn night into day you’ll be happy to have it.

Stay on top of your hydration and electrolytes. It can mean the difference between an enjoyable race and a DNF. At no time were we really low energy, my biggest limiting factor was general muscle pain, specifically from my Morton’s Neuroma in my feet and just the constant stress of going up and down hills in my quads.

Rocky Raccoon 50 2019 Route

Using the heat map function and some freehand pathing I re-created the Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile route for 2019 in Garmin’s route app.

Rocky 50

You can find it over here. It’s not 100% accurate to the published route, at least I only have 24.86 miles and the actual route is measured at a hair over 50 miles for 2 laps. So I’m a quarter short give or take over 50 miles.

But it should be ‘good enough’ for following or just looking at the vertical. Per Google elevation data there’s only 900′ of vertical per lap. Which is practically flat. We did 25 miles this last weekend with 1800 total vertical and while it was rollers none of it was badly sloped.

One of the things I realized when I was charting this is that when given the option to turn, always turn left and when you can’t turn left go straight. This only applies to the T junction with the out and back to Gate that you don’t do on the way back. So if you consider Farside as the turn around then the route is somewhat shorter on the way back than the way out. So that’s a plus I think.

We’re down to 4 Weeks (plus a day) before we load up the truck and head down to see if we can finish a 50 miler in less than the time allotted.

For this honestly my current target goal is 14 hours for various reasons. I think it’s pessimistic I’d like to do it in under 12 but I’d rather be short than long of my goal.

T Minus 6 and…

It’s 4:53 p.m. on Sunday and in 6 days, Saturday the 17th, we’ll be finished with our first 50K (if we’re not by this time on Saturday then something went horribly wrong).

I did a 10K run this morning and frankly I’m not thrilled about how I’m going to do in the race. My HR was too high for what should have been an easy effort in 40 degree temperatures. The forced break has cost me more than I like in endurance and conditioning.

But it is what it is and there’s no take backsies. So we’re going to knock this out so we can join the ranks of the Ultra Marathoners. Now some ultra runners have an opinion that ultra marathons really only start at 50 miles. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But my opinion is I’m putting the Ultra charm I’ve had for over an year on my RoadID at race end when I add my 50K charm.

We’ve both got our stuffs packed up, check lists checked and double checked and we’re going to give it our all. Not much more we can do.

The 100K Unicorn

Although it’s very much a cart before the horse, we’ve been forward looking at our next distance milestone, in this case the 100k.

We’re already signed up and travel plans made for our first 50K, Dead Horse Ultra and our first 50Mile, Rocky Raccoon 50.

It’s a shame too as I would so win the best ass award.

But Ultras are a little different than shorter races in that there are in most (all?) ultra’s there is a small fixed number of slots for runners.  And these can be as few as 40 slots to as high as 500 (that I’ve seen).   So a popular race tends to fill up fast.   We were looking at a very pretty race in the great lakes area and it had filled up like 2 weeks after they opened sign ups.   And it was 8 months before the race date.

Long story not very short we’re trying to plan our races out in the long view so we don’t miss a sign up for a race we really want because that means another year before we can try for it again.

So assuming the 50K and the 50M doesn’t kill us (me really) then the next step is the 100K.

There’s some key pieces I’m looking for in our first 62 mile race.  I don’t want multiple short laps for my first race of any distance.   I want to get my monies worth out of scenery and experience.

There also can’t be a bad amount of vertical because we have no way to consistently train for long verticals around here.   So less than 8K mandatory, less than 5k preferred.

Technical terrain is fine, I’m slow anyway so it doesn’t hurt my pride/pace to have to slow down to crawl up a vertical cliff face.

Scenery is important, there has to be something worth seeing at the race if I’m spending money on a plane ticket.

Best Ass

Time of year is critical.  I physically would have serious issues with a warm/hot race.  The Javelina Jundred seems like a party race for example but 12 hours in the sun in the desert in the heat would probably kill me.   It’s a shame too as I would so win the best ass award. 😉   I need something between September and March and preferably between November and February.  This is due in large part that I have dehydration problems with heat.   My water intake mechanics are not on par with my water outflow mechanics.  i.e. I sweat like a pig and my body doesn’t keep enough resources in reserve to process water fast enough.   This isn’t a performance concern, it’s a serious health concerns.

Soooo I’m painstakingly going through all the race calendars I can find and filtering them for 100k’s and then going through each one and documenting their laps/route types, their total vertical, the time of year and historical temperatures for the race, distance between aid stations.

Another key piece is tracking down race reports for the races and seeing what other people thought of them.  Were the aid stations good?   Was the route well marked?  Were there any surprises?  How was the bathroom situation? And was the race enjoyable, as much as one can enjoy pushing oneself to such ridiculous extremes.

My current rough initial list is.  All of these need further looking into but they made the initial cut just based on vertical and time of year and cut off times.  Where I could find any I added links to race reports/reviews.

Secret Beach

ORegon
October early
6600 feet vert, 16 miles of sand running, 5 miles of road running
Out and back loops
17 hour cut off

Mines of Spain

Iowa
October late
8400 feet vert
20mile loop repeated
23 hour cut off

Cuyamaca 100K

California (SD)
October early
8800 feet vertical
3 separate loops
19 hour cutoff
highest 6500k

Race Report, Race Report, Race Report

Cave Creek Thriller
(Not technically a 100K but an 80k with the Double 50k + 30k)
Arizona
Temps in the 90’s
October mid
50K day run, 30k night run
Race Report Race Report

Ordnance 100K

California
2 separate loops (40 and 22)
7200 vertical
Aggressive cut off of 16.5 hours
Finisher medal is a glass
DFL award
Race Report, Race Report, Race Report

Zion 100

Utah
April mid
7300 feet vertical
Large route, minimal out and back branches
Some major slopes from time to time
21.5 hour cutoff
Race Report, Race Report, Race Report

Crazy Desert Trail Race

Texas
March early
15 mile loop repeats
Has actual dinosaur footprints on it.
22 hour cut off
Race Report, Race Report

Black Canyon

Arizona
February mid
point to point
20 hour cut off
7000 of vertical
buckle for 100k
Race Report,Race Report, Race Report

Trail Trashed

Nevada (near vegas)
March early
31mile out and back
20 hour cut off
5900 of vert

Race Report, Race Report,

Grandmaster Ultras

Arizona
31 mile loop x 2
3800 feet of vertical
48hour cut off

 

Race Report: Tess Trail Run

Today as part of my 10K training I participated in the Tess Charity Run, a run for which the proceeds go to assist battered and abused women in seeking help and counseling.

The race was a 5K trail run that ran over the blue and yellow tracks of Turkey Mountain.   It had a M shape elevation chart with some reasonable technical pieces, mostly the vertical ups and downs.

A smaller turn out, only 81 participants were in the race.   There was also some larger race going on at the same time that probably pulled folks out because a) it was larger and b) it was street.   It’s been my experience and I’m sure everyone’s that trail runs pull quite smaller fields.

I’d like to say I held back knowing this was just the first 5K of the day for me but I ran it about 90% effort.  Enough to place 2nd in my age group but let’s face it, 2nd in your age group when there are 81 total runners isn’t all that.

Let’s just say I finished near the 66 percentile on the wrong side of the halfway point.  There were a fairly good set of speedsters there today with  winner turning in a 22 minute 5K trail run.   We actually picked him out before the race as the person that was going to win, he showed up in racing flats and ran in just a pair of shorts.

But overall I felt decent for the race, running the 5K on trails with a fair bit of vertical 5 minutes slower than my last flat road 5K last week that I ran about 95% effort.

After the race I caught up with a friend who ran it as well albeit faster than me (but a minute slower than my road time) and we went up the hill to do another 5K on the Pink aka Snake Run trail although we cut out that right hand out and back as you’re coming back up on the official Snake Run route which makes it 3.5 miles instead of 3.1.   Leave that short out and back off and it’s almost exactly a 5K.

We had a good time on both the race and the training run afterwards but with only a couple of exceptions I’ve had a good time with races and even those that were ‘bad’ aka my first marathon, Little Rock, my first 25K, Pumpkin’ Holler, my second half marathon, T-Town Half were still not bad.  Yes the last few miles of each one of those was pretty bad but everything leading up them was enjoyable so a few bad miles due to injury, dehydration, whatever isn’t enough to detract from the overall experience.

And if you don’t push right up to and even a bit beyond the breaking point, you won’t ever know what your really capable of.

Midnight Madness 20

We did the Midnight Madness by TATUR.  The race started at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday and ran into Sunday which happens to be my birthday.

We ‘just’ did the 20 mile as the 50 is still way out of my league.  Even the 20 was ridiculously hard for me.  Blame it on the heat, the OMGodly humidity, that we ran a marathon 2 weeks prior or that we had ‘gone keto’ 10 days prior to the race, whatever the reasons it was hard.

So hard that we finished a bit over an hour longer than our last 20 mile run time.

At mile 6, 10 and 14 I had to refill my bladder with ice and a little water and drank the water as the ice melted until the next stop.  So about 4.5 liters of water just from my bladders.   Add in one half liter soft bottle I started with and another half liter water bottle I picked up at mile 10 at the start/finish aid station and almost 6 liters of water was consumed during this run.

I put out a lot of heat, a bladder full of ice melts under these conditions in about 2 to 3 miles tops at which point it’s just cold water.  Another mile and what’s left is just cool water.

The first 10 went okay under the circumstances.  The next 5 was harder.  Note that there was an option to drop from the 20 to the 10 after the first lap but… not an option for us cause ‘we don’t go back’.

The last 5 was harder still.  by mile 18 from the neck down was painful, from the hips down was a virtual horror show.  Glutes, calves, quads, feet, you name it, it was being a whiny little bitch.

Even Bunny was hurting at this point, I could tell by her stride and form, I’ve seen her run well over a 1000 miles and 18 months with me so I have a fair idea of what’s normal and what’s not with her.

As a ‘keto runner’, all in the name of losing weight mind you, I didn’t fuel much at all on this run.  A few mixed nuts, a small piece of keto pound cake over the course of the run although at mile 16 I did have a couple of small cubes of watermelon because watermelon is delicious.

I also did not carb load obviously for the run.  Prior to the run I’d lost about 10 lbs in the 10 days prior.   A fair amount of that, probably 3 to 4 lbs was cherry pick weight, just the water weight you drop by dropping your glycogen stores.  It’s a freebie almost.   The rest is a combination of fat and water weight loss.

I could certainly feel a distinct energy lack over the course of the run.  Again could be the training schedule, the heat and humidity, the keto, your guess is as good as mine as to what was the most significant contributor to the run or lack of running.

But in the end we finished it and with only a couple of exceptions that’s always been my primary goal for a race.   We landed about mid pack in terms of finish times so better than I expected to be honest.  It also gives you some idea of how the race was for other people.

One of our co-workers did the 50, finishing in a little over 13 hours.  She somewhat recently did a 100 mile run and was running with a slower runner or she’d of come in sooner.

Under these conditions a 50K, 100K, 50M, 100M seem all the more daunting.

But we do have on our schedule our 50K in November with last long run of the Bass Pro marathon and we have a 50M planned for February.

Not sure how I’m going to do with those but even if I finish DFL I’ll still do what I can to make sure I finish.  A DNF won’t shatter my ego or kill my pysche but it’s certainly not something I want to do unless there is injury or conditions such that it becomes long term impacting or deadly.

 

Mowdy Ranch Mustang Run – Marathon Edition

We did the Fourth Annual Mowdy Mustang Run yesterday, June 9th 2018.  tl;dr – It was a great race, extremely well run and supported by very friendly folks, challenging course and we had a lot of fun with it.   Strongly recommended but due to it being run in Oklahoma in June, it’s a challenge.

Wild Mustangs

Wildlife alert – This isn’t your street run in the middle of urban America.  On the back half of the first loop I took a step and realized there was a 3′ copperhead’s head about 8″ from my foot, his natural brownish coloring blended very well with the dirt/sand/clay i was running on.   Luckily he was facing the wrong way or this race might have ended differently.   Later on the back half of the second loop there was another four footer that I believe was a water moccasin lying across the trail.  It was far easier to see with its darker coloration.

Now while neither of these two snakes are typically aggressive and their bites are rarely fatal to adults, it’s still going to ruin your day if you get bit.   So keep an eye out.

Gear Check:

  • Shoes:  Altra Lone Peak 3.5
  • Socks: Injini Toe Socks in medium weight short crew
  • Stryd
  • BCG Compression Shorts
  • Champion Shorts
  • Underarmour  Heat Gear Tank
  • Underarmour Halo
  • Hand Customized cooling towel with an ice pocket
  • Plantronics BackBeats
  • Scosche 24+ HR monitor
  • Fenix 5x
  • Google Pixel 2L
  • Nathan VaporKrar 12L Hydration Vest
  • Platypus Bladder
  • Ultimate Direction 500ml Soft Flasks
  • CrankSports eFuel, eGel
  • Trail Toes anti chafe cream that we like to refer to as “Trail Crotch”

We drove down the day before.  Because of the early race start, the travel time and packet pick up at 4:00 a.m. we’d of had to leave right after we went to bed to drive down the same day so off we went the evening before.

You can rent bunks in the bunkhouse for not much money and it’s a real set of bunkhouses with lines of double bunk beds along the walls, if you can handle sleeping in a room of strangers it’s a lot of fun. There is also an area for camping out by the Start/Finish line if you’d prefer that which is free.  Depending on your preferences either one is viable.

Bonfire

They had a big (BIG) bonfire set up down by the camp area and you could drive down (or walk) and set up a chair and watch the fire if you wanted.   The camp area was about a quarter to third of a mile away from the bunk/main house.

There was also spaghetti dinner the night before as part of your entry.  We didn’t partake as we had dinner with both families at Cracker Barrel before we left.

As usual for a race we didn’t get a ton of sleep for the all the usual reasons including of course sleeping in a strange place surrounded by strangers and were up with the other early risers around 4:00 a.m. and were ready by around 5:00 with all the usual pre-race stuff to do.   We’d prepped fairly well and didn’t have any pre-race surprises other than for whatever reason my race workout hadn’t synced to my watch.

The 50k and marathon runners all started at the same time.   Lights were definitely needed for the first 30-45 minutes as after starting out within a quarter mile we were in the “Shire” which was forested and pretty dark and pretty rocky/technical.

Overall the course was a mix of terrain, from hard packed ground that was practically paved except it was uneven under foot because it was, well… you know actual ground and then to some pretty technical stuff that was very rocky and had a fair bit of difficulty to traverse especially on lap 2 once you started getting (or had gotten) tired (or injured).

Rock Climbing

The route was run twice to make up the marathon distance with a 3rd sub loop on the back half for the 50K’s to get them their distance.

I’d like to call out the fact that the course was EXTREMELY well marked, it would be impossible to get lost.  All the white markings were always on your right and the next marker was always visible.   They included tree tags, wire ground markers and streamers clothes-pinned to the trees.   All you had to do was make sure the markers were on your right and unless you were vision impaired you could always see where you needed to go.  Unlike a 30K we ran last year in spots, with this race we never had a moments confusion as to where we needed to go.

They also looked to have swept the trail free of leaves in those places where there were leaves and mowed the trail in the places where it went through the meadows.  You honestly couldn’t ask for a better laid out course. Kudos on a job well done.

There was a lot of sun to be had as the big chunk of the trails were without tree cover.  An issue if you’re prone to burning.  Me thanks to my genetics I went the whole day out there without sunscreen and came back with a little redness, no pain.  A ginger would probably have spontaneously combusted so if you’re fair skinned, pile on the SPF 50.

Someone came by with a broom

There were aid stations, all manned except for 1, every 3 miles.   All the aid stations were well staffed with people and the usual running fare.

We’d like to especially call out the staff at the 6 mile / Bigfoot station.  They were extremely good at their jobs.   Welcoming, friendly, encouraging and they had us restocked with ice and water on our second loop, cooled down with portable misters and a piece of cold watermelon in our hand and headed out in a minimum of time.  For a race that had nothing but a high level of quality and professionalism these particular guys and gals stood out and rocked it hard.  Bravo!

The first half we were doing okay, slower than a street run by a fair bit but a lot of that time was lost in the very rocky trails that made up a fair bit of portions of the first half of the first half.  Which is a weird way to say it but there you go.

Around mile 8 or 9 I took a pretty heavy fall, as usual on a stretch of terrain that was ‘easy’ which leads to lapses in concentration and a rock or root or something grabbed me and asked me to visit the ground.   Pulled some things in my right thigh and left lower leg that made the rest of the race a little less than pain free.   Around mile 11 or so the muscles in my lower left front calf blew up with excruciating pain and I had to remove my gaiters to get some relief.   My RW ended up having to take my shoes and gaiters off for me as I couldn’t bend my right leg without it seizing up so I literally couldn’t reach my shoes to take them off.

At the halfway point we, by more luck than design, had parked the FJ next to the path so we were able to step off the trail, resupply from our drop bags and then head back (to the same exact point we left it) to the trail.

By miles 14-15 things went downhill, not literally, and my calves started locking up like Hulk’s fists every time I tried to run with a forefoot strike.  I was able to shift to heel strike gait to counter that but then a half mile of heel striking and my IT Band said, “Gotcha!”.

Pope of Nope

From miles 15 on it was mostly power hiking, I’d try to step up the pace and the Pope of Nope would show up and tap me on the shoulder.

Pain’s a funny thing, sitting here writing this my brain is telling, “it wasn’t that bad you could have gone faster” but intellectually I know that wasn’t the case at the time.

With the slower pace came the hotter temperatures and hydration and electrolytes were an issue.  I went through at least 2 gallons of water over the course of the race and urinated only once around mile 25 and not much then.  I was sweating it out as fast as I was taking it in.

Hiking

The interesting thing is after about 5 or 6 miles I was ‘recycling’ my sweat to be kind of grossly honest.   The cooling towel I had around my neck would catch all the sweat and water I poured over my head, evaporation would cool it off and later on I’d wring it out back over my head.   Very Dune like.

Every aid station starting with #2 at 6 miles I’d get at least 16 ounces of water, sometimes 32 ounces.   Earlier in the race I was using eFuel in half the water but by mile 15 it was just water.   I was taking in eGel’s and the occasional salt tablets to keep my electrolytes up.  Possibly not as well as I should have been because around mile 23 the muscles in my forearms also started cramping up, the kind of seizures where it curls your middle 2 or 3 fingers into your palms and you have to press them out with your other hand until the muscle relaxes again.

Fun in the Sun

At mile 22 or so there was an unmanned aid station of some ice water jugs on a makeshift table.   Honestly if that hadn’t of been there and if I hadn’t of taken a good 6-7 minutes or so to sit down and cool off by putting ice water on my cooling towel and wrapping it around my head I’m not sure I’d of finished.  Yes, I would have, but the thought of it being possible I might not finish this race was certainly trying to insert itself into my head.

Mile 24 and some nice folks on a quad came by and checked on us, filled our water bottles with ice water and they offered to drive us in.   DNF with 2 and a half miles to go?  NAFC.

Mile 25 (or so) we came to the last aid station, a Luau themed one which served as the last two manned stations on the back half of the loop.  It was here that I was finally at a point where it felt like I needed to urinate.  Wasn’t  a lot but it also wasn’t the color of coke so I had some confirmation of no rhabdo going on which is always a concern for me when I push myself.

With a clean, albeit darker yellow, bill of health I just focused on trudging out that last mile and a half, all in the sun, and uphill to the finish line.  I wasn’t in great shape mentally because at one point my RW was talking and I realized I hadn’t understood a thing she was saying.  I’d heard it but it might has well have been in ancient Egyptian.

Not far to go

Not far to go

We crossed the finish line, got our medals which albeit modest in size are extremely well done and of the 40 or 50 medals I have are easily in the top 3 for just clean tasteful appearance.  We then packed up where we got to watch at least two people finished after us so we weren’t DFL’d and headed home.

We stopped at Mona’s Rose of Sharon’s diner on the way back.  Mona’s had good reviews on Google, the best on the entire trip and I’m happy to report those reviews were well deserved.  I had a cheeseburger with fries and onion rings and RW had steak fingers with fried pickles.   For afterwards we had a blueberry hand pie warmed and topped with ice cream.   If you enjoy classic, good, old school diner food this is a place to get it, it was all very good, very tasty and it wasn’t because we’d just run a 26+ miles on trails in the sun.

We had some takeaways, or I did, in that you need to double check your load out before you head out.  Whether it’s the start or at a drop bag break, don’t assume you put everything on  your list on your body, physically double check it.  For instance I had no pain relief other than prescription strength stuff which I didn’t want to take as it has a mental impact.   My capsule of OTC pain relief was nowhere to be found when I needed it.

Also be ready to start at least 30 minutes before the start of the race.  Make sure your electronics if you’re using them are ready to go at least 5 minutes before the start time.   For example I ended up having to get my phone out, sync my calendar to my watch, then start the run on the watch and by then the race had started and been going for a couple of minutes.

Also always pack some alternate food stuffs.   All I packed was eGels which get the job done but in the last quarter of the race I found myself wanting something else, a waffle or some PB M&M’s or Stinger Chews or just something other than a gel.

And the biggest takeaway is we’re going to have to train harder than ever to be ready for our 50K in November if we want to finish that race with a decent, for us, time.

All in all we had a great time, in spite of my personal physical issues, at a great race run by great people.  And there were wild horses.  What more could you ask for from a trail race.

Race the Dawn – A RunSalty Production.

It’s been a busy last couple of months with a lot of races from 5K’s to back to back Halves.  One of those though was a special race, a try for my #firstrunningwife to break her personal best from several years ago in a half.

Sadly I wasn’t up to the challenge and in the end cost her about 2 minutes which kept her from PR’ing.

We’re going to try to re-run the route this coming Sunday (5/20/18) and get her a PR.  Given how I felt this morning in this heat (70+ temperatures) I’m pretty sure I’ll have to pace her until I can’t pace her any more and then she’ll have to fly on her own to see if she can break her PR.

I’m calling this race “Race the Dawn” as we’re going to start long before sun up and try to beat the sun up.   We’ll have her PR time + 2 minutes give or take before the sun should be peeking over the horizon.

If she crosses her finish line before the sun then she PR’d.  Pretty simple. If not then we’ll have to wait till fall by which time I’m sure she’ll beat it by a lot based on our training roadmap.

This particular race was all done on a running trail so we don’t have to worry about traffic and at 4 in the morning we don’t have to worry about about a mass of people getting in our way.

Water is a concern with the pace and the heat but we’ll do what we can to fix that.  We’ll have a resupply around mile 7 and I’ll have frozen towels as well for neck and head wrapping.

These were a big hit today after we ran a 25K in our ridiculously too soon heat.   Good thing the climate is stable and doesn’t shift. I bought a big pack of cheap hand towels from a big box store and soaked them in water and then threw them in the freezer last night.   Then into an ice chest to take to the trail today where they stayed super nice and cold and were awesome at dropping core temperature fast.

 

OKC Memorial Half – Disappointing?

Today my Running Husband, Dear Husband, myself and another good friend of ours ran our second half marathon of the weekend. This makes my RH and my second time running the OKC Memorial Half Marathon, and I am of the opinion that if I never run this race again it will be too soon. Not because it is a bad race. In fact it is quite the opposite. It is extremely well supported both by cheering bystanders as well as aid, and is full of runners at all paces. You will never run alone doing this half/full marathon. But alas I am not a fan of the course as it winds up and down the City with only a few flat areas in the more boring sections of town which are always against the wind. I grew up in Tulsa and for some reason prefer our hills and neighborhoods to theirs. Just a personal thing, no offense to lovers of this race.

In terms of races I would totally recommend OKC, but I just simply don’t like it. The only reason I did it again this year was to earn my qualification into the Half Fanatics organization. So now that I have met the criteria I have no need, that I can presently think of, to run this race again. Things can always change but I have no plans in the foreseeable future to return to this race.

On the heels of yesterday’s disappointment, not PR-ing at the Tulsa Drillers Half,  I was hoping to redeem myself today, but alas it simply wasn’t in the cards. I am not however disappointed today, and I am at peace with knowing that I had it in me to blast my old PR out of the water yesterday. The thing about disappointment is that is can be fleeting with the right distractions or occupations to take your mind off of it or to give you a new perspective.

As for today’s performance, I just didn’t have enough juice to run the needed 10 minute mile average on this very hilly course, and luckily I knew this by about mile 2 so I didn’t burn myself out as it was hard enough to finish in 2:27. I was just too sore, dehydrated, and sleep deprived to run my best.  It was actually a bit of a relief to know quite early that I wasn’t going to PR, it took the pressure off and allowed me to enjoy what I could of the experience, although given how horribly sore I was during the race, it felt more like I was running the back half of the Little Rock marathon as we didn’t stroll leisurely and still finished with a respectable time and a PR for both of us for this particular race. Let’s just say my new time is just a tad better than last year’s when I was closer to 40lbs heavier.

After the race, on our way home, we stopped off in Edmond and enjoyed some rather tasty burgers at the Cow Calf-Hay. I would recommend it if you are looking for a decent burger in a down-home atmosphere. The décor is as you would expect and the service was great. All-in-all I am happy to have this whole back-to-back half marathon thing out of the way and in general I am good with my overall performance, and super proud of my team. A good ending to the weekend, one that I am not disappointed in after all.